Publication Details

Metal concentrations in urban riparian sediments along an urbanization gradient

Publication Toolbox

  • Download PDF (672365)
  • This publication is available only online.
Bain, Daniel J.; Yesilonis, Ian D.; Pouyat, Richard V.

Year Published



Biogeochemistry. 107: 67-79.


Urbanization impacts fluvial systems via a combination of changes in sediment chemistry and basin hydrology. While chemical changes in urban soils have been well characterized, similar surveys of riparian sediments in urbanized areas are rare. Metal concentrations were measured in sediments collected from riparian areas across the urbanization gradient in Baltimore, MD. Average metal concentrations are similar to those observed in other regional studies. Two important spatial patterns are evident in the data. First, calcium concentrations double across the urbanization gradient, regardless of changes in underlying geochemistry at the boundary between the Eastern US Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces. Alkali-earth metal ratios indicate that the additional Ca is very pure and possibly arises from cement common to urban systems. Second, hot spots of trace metals typically associated with urban systems (e.g., Cu, Zn, and Pb) occur in areas that have been artificially filled to create additional real estate in high land value areas. Together, these data indicate that riparian sediments exhibit unexpected patterns of metal contamination. If these sediments are remobilized, during events such as droughts or floods, this contamination may perpetuate legacy impacts to ecosystem health from a history of fluvial contamination.


Baltimore; calcium; trace metal fate and transport; urban fluvial systems


Bain, Daniel J.; Yesilonis,Ian D.; Pouyat, Richard V. 2012. Metal concentrations in urban riparian sediments along an urbanization gradient. Biogeochemistry. 107: 67-79.

Last updated on: May 22, 2012